2022 WAFCON: How Ngozi Okobi Went Spiritual To ‘Force’ Her Name Into Super Falcons List
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By Amaechi Agbo
The pride, honour and respect that comes with playing for one’s national team as a footballer cannot be quantified. It is no wonder then that players would work hard at their clubs to merit invitation to the national team particularly during an international competitions.
The situation evokes a feeling of concern and worry where a player is effective, efficient and active in her club side, playing and scoring goals but was omitted from the list of invited players for her national team’s continental football championship
To Ngozi Sonia Okobi-Okeoghene, Ngozi Okobi for short, the disappointment of not being called or invited to the Nigeria’s senior national women’s football team, the Super Falcons when her teammates were asked to report to camp for the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, WAFCON in Morocco in June, was traumatic.
The Eskilstuna United DFF of Sweden forward in a “video testimony” narrated how she “cried and cried” when invitation was not sent to her ahead of the Super Falcons camping in Abuja for the biennial championship
Okobi who made her senior debut for the Falcons in 2010 and had gone ahead to win four WAFCON trophies, captained the team in their 3rd-place match against Chopper Queens of Zambia in Morocco
But her name was conspicuously omitted from the initial list of players invited to camp by coach, Randy Waldrum and released by the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF on May 16, 2022.
Narrating how she went spiritual and asked “God to show her mercy” in a video she sent to an online church programme, New Season Prophetic Prayers and Declaration (NSPPD) in August, Okobi recounted how she was frustrated and went on kneels, crying and asking God to answer her prayer.
“I am doing this video from Sweden. I am a professional football player. I play in Sweden and also with female national team of Nigeria, Super Falcons precisely. I have been with the team for over 13 years.
“I usually get this link from a friend of NSPPD (New Season Prophetic Prayers and Declaration) member. She sends it on Instagram and WhatsApp. Initially I refused to join but my husband also sent it to me and it was like I really have to do this. I joined first in March and I got to like it. When I hear people’s testimonies, I was like, this is good. I love to celebrate people’s testimonies, what God has done for them. That was what made me to love this praying platform. I love the altar. It is not something that the pastor goes to pray for them, this is pray your way out; so I keyed into it and started praying
“They invited players to join in the camp for the Nations Cup late May and early June. That is when they started sending out messages to players that will be joining for that journey. That journey I have played several times. I have won four trophies.
“I was sad because I have a teammate in Sweden who is also part of the national team. She told me ‘I got a message from the secretary, did you get any message?’ I said, no. She kept on calling everyday and said ‘I got another message, did you get any message?’ I said no. Everyday I kept on praying ‘oh Lord show me mercy’.
“One of the Wednesdays I didn’t have the strength to pray because I was so disappointed that upon all the whole players, I was the only one left out.
“Pastor Jerry, (the pastor in charge of the programme) I cried. That day I could not pray because I was kneeling down and crying. I was not praying. I couldn’t say a word that ‘God do this or do that; I was just crying. I could not hold back my tears. I cried and cried.
“I wrote in my expectation list that I must be in the camp. This journey, it is not a right but a privilege to be in the national team. I must be there, that is what I said. I must be part of the national team. I must be in Morocco, I must play and people will see my impact, celebrate and give glory to God. That was what I wrote on my expectation form
“Pastor Jerry, to my greatest surprise, and I have been doing well in my team here in Sweden. I have been playing well, scoring goals. All over the news people see me and are like ‘you have been doing well, why did this man not call you to camp?'” she started.
She further narrated how the situation changed in late June and she got calls and messages from the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF and teammates asking her to report to camp.
“On the 29th of June, this journey to Morocco is on July 2nd. I was talking to another friend downstairs, I started receiving messages on my phone. Calls were coming in. I was surprised. All these calls and messages were from the national team. The secretary was calling ‘Okobi, please can you take your calls? The captain was waiting for you. Please are you free to talk?’
“I knew this is what God has done for me. What God cannot do does not exist because they have done medicals and everything, something I can’t get immediately to go to camp. I was surprised, I don’t really know how to express my joy.
“I was talking to my friend and said can you see what is happening, see messages from the national team. My heart was full of joy but I don’t know how to express it. I am just expressing it in a very calm way. I couldn’t shout or jump.
I got to the camp, Pastor Jerry, that is not enough. I know that what God cannot do, does not exist. I said that the moment I step my my feet into that camp in Abuja, I will not end in Abuja, I will go straight to Morocco and that’s exactly what happened.
“I got to Abuja, they could not handle me because the light in me was so bright that no darkness can actually quench. I went to Morocco, I played my first two games and I was great.
“The last game against Zambia, he ( Coach Randy Waldrum) called me and said he wants me to be the captain of the game. I said no, I don’t want to be captain, let me just play. I said I have two more seniors that have been training from the beginning and they should be the ones wearing the captain armband not me. He said no, that he also spoke with the seniors and they said they want me to be the captain that since the tournament I have been exceptional.
“Pastor Jerry, I wore the captain armband and I got the respect that I am supposed to get all because of God I am serving.
“I have been keeping this testimony because I didn’t know how to record myself and start saying it. I just want to say what God cannot do does not exist. I am truly that woman that God has shown mercy.” She narrated on NSPPD YouTube video shared on Friday, August 19, 2022.